By Laura Reagan-Porras
I was a newbie freelance writer with only regional parenting publications for clips.
Then, I had two big realizations that allowed me to move forward and find better pay — fast.
Realization #1: I dropped the notion that a legitimate freelance writing career only involved querying to national magazines.
Realization #2: I realized I had limited myself by not capitalizing on an area of expertise.
What did I do with these realizations? I changed the course of my career by taking action right away. I focused on LinkedIn to build my online presence and spotlight my expertise in writing about social issues.
Step 1: I revised my LinkedIn profile
I started by adding clips to my profile. LinkedIn allows you to do this in a few clicks.
Then I rewrote the summary section on my LinkedIn profile directly to potential clients.
And, I did this all in one evening.
Step 2: I researched and pitched
I started by using old-fashioned email to introduce myself to a national nonprofit blogger I found.
I sent her my resume so she could see my social sector experience and I invited her to review my new LinkedIn profile that had my description and services as a writer along with my newly posted clips. Then I simply asked if she would consider me for freelance work on non-profit topics.
She emailed me the next day and offered me a gig. I was ecstatic!
Step 3: I used LinkedIn to pitch locally
Next I pitched a local online newspaper. I found the editor on LinkedIn and asked him to be a connection. Then I sent him a message through Linked In and asked about his social sector section, which had not shown much new activity lately.
I told him that I was beginning to do freelance writing, in addition to consulting with my firm for nonprofits. I asked if he had anyone updating his social sector section. He said, “No.” I asked if I might do it. He said, “Sure!”
We met the next week to negotiate the details.
Step 4: I let LinkedIn bring a client to me
The vice president of our local university — a former colleague and LinkedIn connection already — saw my new profile replete with clips and asked if I would be interested in a regular monthly gig writing her donor newsletter and stewardship letters to existing donors.
Of course, I said, “Yes!”
Inside of two weeks, I had three “anchor clients” for my freelance writing business. Two came from my local network, one from a national blog.
It was amazing how the universe opened up when I hung my online shingle as a social issues and social sector freelance writer.
I have a long way to go. But I resisted my perfectionism and sent my first query to a national magazine.
In the meantime, I am breathing deeply, trying to allow the reality to sink in. My dream has come true — I am a full-time freelance writer.
What realizations changed the course of your career? Tell us in the comments below.
Laura Reagan-Porras is a social issues freelance writer. With previous experience as a clinical sociologist and nonprofit manager, Laura has written for regional magazines and nonprofit and private organizations. Connect with her on LinkedIn.